Chasing Progress - How Maisie Trafford came 3rd at Brighton Half

Salomon Running Shoes & Clothing

Maisie grew up in Brighton and has taken part in sports since she was able to catch and throw a ball. Having attended an independent specialist sports school, she played hockey to England level at the age of 17 and represented the county in Netball from 15-18 years old. So, as you can imagine, getting into running wasn’t that difficult as she had developed a strong sports literacy throughout her upbringing.
This is her story in chasing progress. 
My training is pretty full on, so as a teacher, it’s vital I’m organised to get my training in and complete a full work day that at times doesn’t finish till 6:30/7pm, that’s without the marking and planning. 5am morning runs are a theme in my training week, whereby I’ll more than often complete an hour (8 miles) at 5am and a further 4-6 miles (45mins) at 6pm in the evening.
As a relatively new runner (3 years ago I started), I’m still working out where my strengths are in the distances and more importantly, which distance I enjoy racing most. So throughout the year, my mileage doesn’t have a significant shift in change. A typical week for me would average anywhere between 65-75 miles, dependent on time taken to taper for races and key peak weeks ready for races in the season. Double days occur for me on a Monday (AM easy run, PM session with coach), Wednesdays (AM easy, PM steady) and Fridays (Two steady runs in the AM and PM). On a Thursday, I often average around 8-10 miles of hard to moderate tempo run, this is a key day for me in the week as it maintains my LTP (lactate threshold). It’s also one of my favourite runs during the week, as I can zone out and concentrate on the pace. A Saturday is most often a long run, between 12-16 miles of running *as I feel*. That leaves Tuesday for a long recovery run after a Monday evening session and Sunday as a day I can opt to take as a rest day or a couple of miles of jogging.
I try to keep my nutrition as balanced as possible. Running super early in the morning can leave me starving from 7:00am onwards throughout the day, so it’s key I get breakfast in as soon as possible after I finish my run. A common breakfast is often poached eggs on toast and a banana, not forgetting a hot chocolate or coffee. Hot chocolate in the morning is a winner for anyone craving a bit of sugar, vital as the replenishment of glucose for a hard day of training,
I try to get as much water down as possible, but this can often be hard as a PE teacher when you're so active throughout the day. The balance of proteins, carbs, fibre, fats, vitamins and minerals are key, especially when you're training 70 plus miles a week. Without those key aspects, I can often find myself lacking energy, de-motivated and picking up small viruses in the year. I supplement vitamin D tablets and iron tablets to ensure I’m getting enough.
Mixing work/Social/Running
I’m lucky to have a PE department and headteacher at school who support and appreciate the amount of time I spend training and racing. So mixing work and running isn’t too difficult. Socially, I spend the majority of time with like minded people, that’s more than often, runners. As a runner, you understand the pain during a race, the tiredness after a hard session, the hard days when your pace just isn’t on form, the amount of time you invest into the training and the real challenge runners can face from lack of “quality time” with family and friends who don’t run. It’s often difficult to understand how people hate running and can’t comprehend the passion for the sport, so when individuals ask me “why” or “how”, it’s difficult to answer without sounding crazy or like a mad person. I think the most you can ask is for them to appreciate, respect and accept how much hard work, time and emotion can go into a pair of trainers and watch.
Race day prep
When it comes to race week, I alter the second half of my week as opposed to the whole 7 days. My sessions are on a Monday, therefore when my races are on a Saturday or Sunday, I still have a considerate amount of time to recover. I do however, reduce the mileage and ease the pace of my runs prior, as well as try to drink as much water as possible. I also increase my intake of beetroot, fats (nuts and avocado) and protein. This is a regime that suits me. The night before, I don’t have a big pasta dish for dinner, or have a pizza to “fuel me”. It’s just not realistic nor the correct thing to do. I try to keep my portion sizes smaller and snack more in the day on bananas, malt loaf, breakfast bars and small amounts of dark chocolate. Nutrition differs for everyone, some people love a high carb meal prior to race day, but for me, it just doesn’t work. If I have a 9am race, I wake up at least two to three hours before and have a coffee, porridge and bit of sugar (chocolate). If my race is at 8.15pm (Armagh or Watford track races), I try to eat normally till 1 o'clock then I have smaller snacks up until two hours before the race. I do however, still keep my intake of water high.
Sleep is also a massive factor for my performance and recovery. So I try to get 8 hours sleep a night. This is relatively easy for me, as I’m more than often exhausted after a day of training and work. Of course, life gets in the way, but I’m lucky enough to have a supportive network around me who are incredibly accepting of the lifestyle I choose to lead.
Race review
After a race, I look straight for my coach Geoff. I know in myself if I’ve done what I set out to do, but I seek reassurance from him. Although I may be the one training in all weathers, feeling the pain of sessions and ultimately running the race. My coach is the one who analyses sessions, breaks down and alters my training based on how I feel and stands out in all weathers with his stopwatch monitoring my sets and reps in sessions. So without him, I know I wouldn’t be at the level of standard I am right now.
Geoff and I take some time to think about races and discuss how it went, how it felt and ultimately, whether I enjoyed it. Based on this, we think what the next stage is together and what we want to achieve. I stay in contact every day with my coach, we work on a day to day basis. I never know what my session is until 5 minutes before it begins. This is so that I don’t begin to dwell on how hard or difficult it is going to be. It works for me, so don’t change what isn’t broken.
What’s next:
Cardiff Bay 10k 29th March
Cardiff 5k 9th May
London Vitality 10,000 25th May
Crawley open meets (Track)
Watford open meets (Track)